Cross George Gwozdecky off the list of candidates for the prime college hockey job openings this season. He’s staying at Denver, with an extension on his already lengthy contract.
The school announced Tuesday that Gwozdecky, coach of the top-ranked Pioneers, signed a long-term contract with Denver.
“We have done everything in our power to make sure George will be our hockey coach for many years to come,” said Denver athletics director M. Dianne Murphy, who would not disclose the terms of the deal.
Gwozdecky, who in November 1999 signed an eight-year extension with Denver, was an early favorite for impending openings at Wisconsin, his alma mater, and Michigan State, where he was an assistant coach. He dismissed each rumor, however, with a news release saying he was not interested in leaving the Pioneers.
On Tuesday, three days before his team plays the Badgers in Madison, Wis., Gwozdecky left no doubt about where he’ll be next season.
“I’m here today to state that I’m very happy here at the University of Denver,” he said. “I have no intentions of coaching at any other institution, except for the University of Denver.”
Said Murphy: “I am announcing this today to end any speculation about George’s future. We want George and the hockey team to focus on the season at hand.”
Gwozdecky, 49, was already under contract to Denver until 2007, so this extension, and the timing of its announcement, was more to say that Gwozdecky is out of the running for the Wisconsin and Michigan State jobs, each of which will open at the end of the season.
He said he had no contact with either schools about their openings, but admitted he and his family had some sleepless nights in dealing with the situation.
“I know that there were some … distractions that have affected some of our players,” Gwozdecky said. “I wanted to make sure that wasn’t an excuse for any of us as we approach the most important time of our season.
“The longer something like this goes on, the more it can become bigger and more distracting. More rumors start circulating. I’m very pleased that we have been able to eliminate that.”
Gwozdecky is in his eighth year at Denver, where he has a 167-123-20 record. In 12-plus years as a Division I coach, Gwozdecky has a 250-217-39 record.
He was the WCHA’s coach of the year in the 1994-95 season, his first with the Pioneers, when he led them to a 25-15-2 record and a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Gwozdecky was a wing on Wisconsin’s 1977 NCAA championship team and was a graduate assistant with the Badgers for one year, 1977-78, before spending six years at Wisconsin-River Falls — the last three as head coach.
From 1984 to 1989, he was an assistant to Ron Mason at Michigan State before landing his first NCAA Division I head coaching job, at Miami.
Gwozdecky was 83-94-19 in five years at Miami (1989-94) and was given the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year in 1993. He also won the CCHA coach of the year award twice.
The Pioneers coach said he hopes his team can now focus on the rest of the season instead of wondering where its coach will be next year.
“I want to reconfirm to our current players and our future players that I will be here to see them graduate,” Gwozdecky said. “I love these young men and I want to be here to win the national championship together.”